50 for 50 Spotlight: Spencer Wolfe (JD ’19)

“I believe so many students leave this law school in a better position and state of mind to change the world for the better.”

Spencer Wolfe currently serves as the interim assistant director for Alumni Relations at Pepperdine Caruso Law, a role primarily focused on maintaining interactions and connections with alumni and ensuring that they always feel a part of the Pepperdine community and family. Wolfe describes his new role as “challenging” considering how great he says Jessie Fahy, (the director currently on maternity leave) is and has been in this position for the last five years. “I find the challenge is well worth the effort,” Spencer adds, “and I consider myself truly blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of this school for another year.”

Beginning in July 2020, Wolfe will begin his military service with Officer’s Boot Camp. Following boot camp, he will attend a 12 week training on the Uniform Military Code of Justice in Virginia. He will then be officially sworn in as an officer in the United States Army JAG Corp. With Veterans Day celebrated this week, we sat down with Wolfe for his thoughts on the relationships he has with built with the Pepperdine community and the law school’s unique opportunities for veterans. 

Describe life post Bar Exam

There is a bittersweet feeling to my life after the Bar Exam. This time marks the full transition from law school student to legal professional. I can attest to the fact that there is some confusion or adjustment period. It can be a little daunting transitioning from studying full time, all the time, to working in a traditional professional environment. I was fortunate enough to reach out to the law school’s Career Development Office to speak about short term employment in the area and then have them find an opportunity for me. It was last December that I was officially selected to be a candidate for Army JAG, but that process can take a while before you are officially brought on. The CDO was willing to help me find a post Bar legal job that would be for short term, but they also mentioned that there was a possible opportunity at the law school. Recognizing that there was a way I could continue to stay connected to this school was a chance I could not pass up! 

How did you arrive at the decision to pursue a JD at Pepperdine Law?

Once I had received multiple acceptances, the decision process was initially a weighing of costs and how good of an education I thought I would receive. All of that rational thinking certainly played a factor in my decision, but the experiences I had with the Pepperdine community were the ultimate deciding factor. Before I had even been accepted to Pepperdine, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet, all in spontaneous ways Janet Kerr, Phil Phillips, Lance Bridgesmith, Shannon Phillips, Harry Caldwell, Michael Helfand, and Nicolle Taylor. It was how they made me feel about the school and how they felt about the school as their community that made the decision easy for me. I have never second guessed that decision. 

How do you view the relationship between Pepperdine and its active service members and veteran alumni?

As a student, I enjoyed knowing how many of my fellow classmates were prior service members. I bonded with them over that experience, as I have multiple family members who previously served or are currently serving. It was even more encouraging to have fellow classmates who pursued opportunities as JAG officer’s at the same time I was. I know of four 2019 graduates who were accepted by different JAG corps. Recognizing that they had similar values and goals as myself made my experience as a student so much richer and enjoyable. 

As an employee of the law school now, I love interacting with students who are curious about the school’s environment for veterans. I can proudly tell them about the school’s yellow ribbon status, providing financial assistance to veterans beyond their government education benefits. There are many veterans who have been so successful at this school and stand as examples of how beneficial their experiences are to the law school. The first example to come to mind is William Kellogg who served as President of the SBA and still maintains a strong connection to the school today. I also cannot forget to mention the wonderful display of the flags every September. I think that event every year is a perfect representation of the school’s relationship with its military or service committed students.

Three words that describe your law school experience?

Rigorous. Transformative. A Blessing.

Was there a professor, alumnus, or someone in particular from the law school that fulfilled a mentor role for you?

There were many people who influenced my experience, and benefitted me at different times in my law school career. I always want to give appreciation and acknowledgement to Harry Caldwell, Jordan Johnson, Phil Phillips, Chalak Richards, Lance Bridgesmith, and many others. But I will always recognize Janet Kerr, the wonderful and sweet woman I met first as her server in a Westlake restaurant and then as the person who changed my life path for the better. 

How do you hope to see Pepperdine Caruso Law grow over the next 50 years?

I think this law school already represents such a unique and beautifully distinct educational environment, and I hope that never changes. I believe so many students leave this law school in a better position and state of mind to change the world for the better than anywhere else in the world that I have experienced. I hope the law school grows by creating more influence, more impact, and more presence through the institution as a whole and our alumni around the world. It is that growth that to me will provide the greatest amount of positive works. 

Eighty percent of current student veterans at Pepperdine are in the Yellow Ribbon Program, enabling them to attend college tuition-free. For more information, click here.